(Originally posted here on January 30, 2009.)
One of my plants - actually several plants - that desperately needed my attention this January was the rosemary. There were two plants living in a bed in the vegetable garden. They had suffered damage in the last year and had several dead parts. Two more plants lived in large planters and had really outgrown their space. They all needed some grooming and a new home. Today, I set about giving them what they needed.
The two plants that lived in the vegetable garden are the survivors of my longest-lived rosemary. I don't even remember how long I have had these plants but it has been many, many years. They used to grow in another bed in the vegetable garden, but about ten years ago, I dug the mass planting that actually consisted of three plants, and moved them to a 4'X4' bed.
They had thrived there for many years, reaching a height of more than three feet and filling the bed, but last summer, I noticed they were beginning to look raggedy. A few weeks ago, I walked by the bed and realized that the plant in the middle was completely dead and there were dead branches on the other two. An examination did not reveal any insect damage or obvious disease. I think the problem was purely cultural and perhaps I had ignored signs of stress for too long.
I had already dug out and disposed of the dead plant and today I cut all the dead branches from the other two plants. Thus cleaned up, they actually looked pretty good and appeared to be healthy. The other two plants were in good condition and required little attention other than a lot of muscle to wrestle them out of their pots. I then took all the plants to their new home.
The planting bed where they are now ensconced is an 8'X4' bed. It has a small 'Red Cascade' rose at one end. Now the rosemary fills about two-thirds of the bed. I plan to put some edging plants around the perimeter of the bed, but I'm still debating on just what that should be.
I enjoy growing herbs and rosemary is one of my favorites. In that regard, I am one of millions for it is arguably the best loved herb in the world. Much of its popularity is due to the wealth of traditions that are associated with it. It has had many uses both as a culinary and a medicinal herb.
Its fame even reached the great Shakespeare and, in Hamlet, he had Ophelia speak these words:
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,
But rosemary and remembrance had been linked long before Shakespeare's time. Ancient Greeks had worn it as a garland to stimulate the brain and the memory. Because of these associations, it was also used as a symbol of fidelity for lovers and was often included in wedding bouquets and bridal wreaths. Moreover, it was used as a symbol for remembrance of the beloved dead for the same reasons.
In addition to these uses, rosemary was long thought to be efficacious in the sickroom and is still used by some practitioners of traditional folk medicine in this way. It is sometimes burned to dispel the evil humors that infect the body.
But it is as a culinary herb that rosemary has seen its greatest popularity. It is a wonderful accompaniment to meat dishes. Pork, lamb, and beef can all benefit from its addition, and it adds a lovely flavor to roast chicken. Too, just a touch of rosemary can make many sauces tastier. I also like to use it in "Cheesy Herb Biscuits."
Cheesy Herb Biscuits
2 1/4 c. of your favorite biscuit mix
2/3 c. milk (I use buttermilk if I have it.)
1 c. grated cheese (a mixture of Parmesan & Cheddar is good)
1/2-3/4 c. chopped herbs (any combination you like but parsley, rosemary, chives, and dill are good) Use less if using dried herbs.
Freshly ground black pepper
Mix the herbs and cheese with the dry biscuit mix. Add milk and mix. Drop by spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 1 dozen large biscuits or 30 small ones.
This recipe is a great snack and sometimes I've even had it as a meal by itself. It is also good as the bread accompaniment to a more traditional meal. Give it a try. I think you'll like it. It might even help your memory!